Posted on 4/19/2018 9:45 AM By First Bank
by Andrew Zinn, Senior Vice President S. California Commercial Real Estate
Banks may be one of the most misunderstood institutions in the world, despite being heavily regulated. At its core, every bank has equity capital that functions as a cushion between its assets and liabilities, currently averaging just 13.55% of total assets for U.S. banks.
Unlike an individual, a bank’s loans are its assets and its deposits are its liabilities. Banks lend money to generate interest income; conversely, paying out interest on their deposits. The spread between the two is known as net interest margin (“NIM”) and it’s a key financial metric upon which all banks are measured (FDIC reported in October 2017 the average NIM was 3.65%).
Since the Great Recession, banks have operated in a historically-low interest rate environment. Borrowers have generally benefitted from historically-low rates, while banks have had to pay next to nothing for their deposits. Since the FED has begun raising short ...
Posted on 3/26/2018 12:46 PM By First Bank
Imagine that you receive an email with an urgent message asking you to verify your banking information by clicking on a link. Or maybe you get an enticing text message claiming that you've won a free vacation to the destination of your choice — all you have to do is click on the link you were sent. In both scenarios, clicking on the link causes you to play right into the hands of a cybercriminal seeking your sensitive information. Just like that, you're at risk for identity theft because you were tricked by a social engineering scam.
Social engineering attacks are a form of digital deception in which cybercriminals psychologically manipulate victims into divulging sensitive information. Cybercriminals "engineer" believable scenarios designed to evoke an emotional response (curiosity, fear, empathy, or excitement) from their targets. As a result, people often react without thinking first due to curiosity or concern over the message that was sent. Since social engineering attacks appe ...
Posted on 3/23/2018 9:52 AM By First Bank
There are many recommendations regarding who you should look to as your trusted advisor. As a business owner, the first place to start is by aligning yourself with long-term, proven trusted advisors in not one, but rather three, primary areas: accounting; legal; and banking. Additionally, and just as essential, is partnering with the “best in the business,” or those offering a holistic approach.
At First Bank, we’ve worked with many multi-generational business owners on continuing the company’s legacy, often originating with their parents, grandparents, or occasionally, great-grandparents. Prior to their succession, many of these clients indicated their parents wisely advised them that the most important aspect of running a business was the proper alignment of their trusted advisory team. Undoubtedly, they attributed their success on not only what the family has built, but also the quality of their strategic partnerships. In fact, a recent survey indicated 83% of business owners sai ...
Posted on 3/23/2018 9:37 AM By First Bank
By Jon Moen, SVP/Director of Treasury Management
The final phase (or Phase III) of Same Day ACH addresses the timing of funds availability. It’s officially been implemented across the country. As of March 16, 2018, a credit transaction sent via Same Day ACH has to be made available for cash withdrawal by 5:00 PM local time. Previously, the receiving bank (or financial institution) was required to post Same Day ACH transactions by the end of the business day. First Bank was already making funds available after receipt and processing of the Same Day ACH files, but not at the end of the business day. As you may know, Same Day ACH transactions rolled out in September 2017 for credits (allowing money to be pushed) and in September 2018 for debits (allowing money to be pulled).
All financial institutions using ACH are required to receive Same Day ACH transactions (both debits and credits) even if they are not planning to offer the origination of Same Day service to their clients. This mandate requiring ...
Posted on 1/10/2018 12:12 PM By First Bank
If you're a small business owner, you face many challenges in growing your company. One of them is recruiting and retaining the best talent for your needs. When your primary goals are managing costs and increasing revenue, how do you sufficiently entice new recruits and reward current staff members for continually putting their best efforts forward? One way is ensuring that you provide a competitive, cost-effective benefit package comprised of both traditional and not-so-traditional benefits.
In order to remain competitive, nearly all employers should offer some form of health insurance and retirement savings plan. Yet according to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 55% of small employers (private companies with fewer than 100 employees) offer health coverage and just 52% offer a retirement plan.1
Small businesses can typically choose among traditional plans or managed care/health maintenance organizations (HMOs). Traditional plans are typically more expen ...
Posted on 1/10/2018 11:55 AM By First Bank
Risk management is a key component in any successful business plan. In today's world — where data breaches are common occurrences — it's especially important for business owners to understand the digital risks they face. Are you doing all you can to mitigate the risk of a cyberattack?
The importance of cybersecurity
Many small-business owners may think their organizations hold little appeal to hackers due to their small size and limited scope. However, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), this naiveté may actually make them ideal targets. Small businesses are keepers of employee and customer data, financial account information, and intellectual property. Their systems, if not adequately protected, may also inadvertently provide access to larger supplier networks. "Given their role in the nation's supply chain and economy, combined with fewer resources than their larger counterparts to secure their information, systems, and networks, small employers are an at ...
Posted on 1/10/2018 10:41 AM By First Bank
A charitable remainder trust (CRT) can be a great way for taxpayers to leverage their generosity, producing tax savings that can be used to provide greater benefits to themselves, their spouses, or others, and then to their favorite charities. Tax savings are generated because taxpayers receive income, gift, and estate tax deductions for the value of their donations, and can defer or avoid capital gains tax when appreciated assets are donated.
What is a charitable remainder trust?
A charitable remainder trust (CRT) is an irrevocable trust used to enable donors (called grantors) to give money or property to charities, while continuing to receive income (fixed or variable) from the property for life or for a period of time up to 20 years. The grantor, and/or other beneficiaries (the income beneficiaries) receive distributions from the trust annually, and the charities (the remainder beneficiaries) receive the assets remaining in the trust when the trust ends. The grantor gets an immediate in ...
Posted on 1/10/2018 10:02 AM By First Bank
A buy-sell agreement is a legally binding contract in which the owners of a business set forth the terms and conditions of a future sale or buy back of a departing owner's share of the business. Specifically, buy-sells control when owners can sell their interests, who can buy an owner's interest, and at what price.
Buy-sells can accomplish many objectives, but are primarily used to ensure the smooth continuation of a business after a potentially disruptive event, such as an owner's retirement, incapacity, or death.
Also valuable estate planning tools, buy-sells can provide for the orderly succession of a family business, and for the liquidity needed for payment of a deceased owner's estate settlement costs and taxes. Further, if structured properly, a buy-sell can establish the purchase price as the taxable value of an owner's business interest, avoiding unexpected estate tax consequences at the owner's death.
What is a buy-sell agreement?
Buy-sell agreements ...
Posted on 1/10/2018 9:42 AM By First Bank
What are business assets, and how do you decide whether to lease or buy them?
In the context of the lease versus buy decision, "business assets" refers to fixed assets (such as buildings, machinery, and office equipment) that can usually be depreciated over time. Because these fixed assets are necessary to the operation of most businesses, a question often arises as to whether the business owner should purchase the assets outright or lease them from another party. There are advantages and disadvantages to both leasing and buying. Therefore, your decision should be an informed one, based on the needs of your business and your own preferences.
What is depreciation, and how can it influence your decision to lease or buy business assets?
The IRS assumes that certain tangible business property will decline in value over time due to wear and tear, exhaustion, or obsolescence. Consequently, each year, a portion of the property's value is subtracted (i.e., taken as an expense), based on how l ...
Posted on 1/10/2018 9:29 AM By First Bank
What is a buy-sell agreement?
A buy-sell agreement is a legal contract common in closely held businesses. It is an agreement you can enter into now that provides for the future sale of your business interest. A buy-sell agreement is also referred to as a business continuation agreement, a stock purchase agreement, or a buyout agreement. When carefully drafted, your buy-sell agreement may be used to set the taxable value of your business interest.
Does it matter if your buy-sell agreement is with a family member?
The IRS tends to scrutinize transactions between related parties, so almost any business transaction between you and a family member could be subject to the attention of the IRS. The definition of family member includes your spouse; parents of you and your spouse plus their lineal descendants, including spouses; and any other "natural objects of the transferor's bounty." There are rules in effect that can make the sale of an interest in a family business seem more difficult. H ...